an armistice between my dead folks and my delusions

I am a body
of ghost—
haint-kin cloaked
in earthen flesh

learning to see
my Self 
in the unyielding 
barrenness of my mother’s 
front yard.

The salted fault lines
become me. I bear
a trace of invasion
and reek
of a martyr’s will.

A tangle
of medicinal weeds
interrupts my molting 

Dandelion greens fuzz
up my apathy. A flower
dares itself to bloom
amongst my most quiet

When the rain comes,
I turn mud in my lover’s mouth.
Something fecund hums
through my blood

And maybe . . . this 
is the living. These 
would-be dead things in
the same place, the same time

that is 
my body. Ours. Not mine— 
unowned and fruited and
poor and black and ugly and Here

with you. I reach
a hand      out the wildness
And catch hold
a soft pulse

                                                      we nursed you
                                                      don’t you dare
                                                             give up

Copyright © 2023 by Ra Malika Imhotep. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on January 30, 2023, by the Academy of American Poets.